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troubled the congress. I have passed my seventy-fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout which I had the last winter, has shaken me exceedingly; and I am yet far from having recovered the bodily strength Ibeforeenjoyed. I do not know that my mental faculties are impaired. Perhaps I shall be the last to discover that; but I am sensible of great diminution in my activity, a quality, I think particularly necessary in your minister for this court. I am afraid therefore, that your affairs may sometime or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also that the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant attendance at home which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange, (a matter foreign to my ministerial functions) to answer letters, and perform other parts of my employment, prevent my taking the air and exercise which my annual journies formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health. There are many other little personal attentions which the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man’s comfort, even perhaps in some degree to the continuance of his existence, and with which business often interferes. I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed public confidence in some shape or other during the long term of fifty years, an honor sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition, and I have now no other left but the repose which I hope the congress will grant me by sending some person to supply my place. At the same time I beg they may be assured, that it is not any the least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and simply the reasons abovementioned; and as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage, (the last having been almost too much for me) and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and imprisonment in this time of war. I purpose to remain here at least till the peace; perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life, and if any knowlege or experience I have acquired here, may be thought of use to my successor, I shall freely communicate it and assist him with any influence I may be supposed to have, or counsel that may be desired of me.
I have one request more to make, which if I have served the congress to their satisfaction, I hope they will not refuse me. It is this, that they will be pleased to take under their protection my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I have educated him from his infancy, and I brought him over with an intention of placing him where he might be qualified for the profession of the law, but the constant occasion I had for his services as a private secretary, during the time of the commissioners, and more extensively since their departure, has induced me to keep him always with me, and indeed being continually disappointed of the secretary congress had at different times intended me, it would have been impossible for me, without this young gentleman's assistance, to have gone through the business incumbent on me; he has thereby lost so much of the time necessary to law studies, that I think it rather advisable for him to continue, if it may be in the line of public foreign affairs, for which he seems qualified by a sagacity and judgment above his years. Great diligence and exact probity, a genteel address, a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowlege of business to be obtained by a four years constant employment in the secretary’s office, where he may be said to have served a kind of apprenticeship. After all the allowance I am capable of making for the partiality of a parent to his offspring, I cannot but think he may in time make a very able foreign minister for the congress, in whose service his fidelity may be relied on; but I do not at present propose him as such, for though he is now of age, a few years more of experience will not be amiss. In the meantime, if they shall think fit to employ him as a secretary to their minister at any European court, I am persuaded they will have reason to be satisfied with his conduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment as a favor to me. - .
Ertract of a letter from John Jay, Esq. to the President of Congress;
THE letters herewith enclosed from Doctor Franklin, were left open for my perusal; the short stay of my courier at Paris not allowing time for copies to be made of the information conveyed in and with it.
I perceive that Doctor Franklin desires to retire; this circumstance calls upon me to assure congress that I have reason to be perfectly satisfied with his conduct towards me, and that I have received from him all the aid and attention I could wish or expect; his character is very high here, and I really believe that the respectability he enjoys throughout Europe, has been of general use to our cause and country.
Fortract of a letter from John Jay, Esq.
BY the letter from Doctor Franklin, herewith enclosed, and which he was so obliging as to leave open for my perusal, I find he has requested permission to retire, on account of his age, infirmities, &c., how far his health may be impaired I know not. The letters I have received from him, bear no marks of age, and there is an acuteness and sententious brevity in them, which do not indicate an understanding injured by years. I have many reasons to think our country much indebted to him, and I confess it would mortify my pride as an American, if his constituents should be the only people to whom his character is known, that should deny his merit and services. The testimony given them by other nations, justice demands of me to assure you, that his reputation and respectability are acknowleged, and have weight here, and that I have received from him all that uniform attention and aid which was due to the impor.
tance of the affairs committed to me. Y
The affectionate mention he makes of his only descendant, on whom the support of his name and family will devolve, is extremely amiable, and flows in a delicate manner from that virtuous sensibility by which nature kindly extends the benefits of parental affection, to a period beyond the limits of our lives; this is an affectionate subject, and minds susceptible of the finer sensations, are insensibly led at least to wish that the feelings of an ancient patriot, going in the evening of a long life early devoted to the public, to enjoy repose in the bosom of philosophic retirement, may be gratified by seeing some little sparks of the affection of his country rest on the only support of his age and hope of his family. Such are the effusions of my heart on this occasion, and I pour them into yours from a persuasion that they will meet with a hospitable reception from congenial emotions.
Colonel John Laurens, to Dr. Franklin.
I SNATCH a moment to pay my last respects to your excellency, and to mention a matter which has occurred to me since my being on board. I have frequently reflected upon the mention which your excellency has made of retiring from your present important station, and have never varied the opinion which I took the liberty of giving you once at the count de Vergennes, viz. that the best arrangement would be to give your excellency an active, intelligent secretary of the embassy, who might relieve you from the drudgery of office; and that your country should not be deprived of the advantages of your wisdom and influence. The difficulty hitherto has been to find a person properly qualified. The advantages which your grandson derives from his knowlege of the language, and manners of the people, and his having been so long in your office, and with your excellency, are very great. The prejudices which have been entertained against him may be removed by a personal introduction to congress, especially if it is combined with rendering a popular service. I take the liberty of proposing to your excellency therefore, if you can spare Mr. Franklin for the purpose, to commit to his care the second remittance of money, and to hasten his departure with that, and as much of the public supplies of clothing, &c. as may be ready to accompany it. I am persuaded that in public bodies, the want of a personal acquaintance is a great objection to appointing a man to any important office. The Engageante's boat demands my letter: I have written. in the greatest haste, upon a subject which I hope your excellency will turn to public utility.
Dr. Franklin, to Mr. R. Oswald resfierting Cashtain Asgill.
I HAVE but this minute had an opportunity, by the departure of my company, of perusing the letters you put into my hands this afternoon; and I return them directly, without waiting till our interview to-morrow morning, because I would not give a moment's delay, to the delivery of those directed to other persons. The situation of captain Asgill and his family afflicts me: but I do not see what can be done by any one here to relieve them. It cannot be supposed that general Washington has the least desire of taking the life of that gentleman. His aim is to obtain the punishment of a deliberate murder, committed on a prisoner in cold blood, by captain Lippincut. If the English refuse to deliver up or punish this murderer, it is saying that they choose to preserve him, rather than captain Asgill. It seems to me, therefore, that the application should be made to the English ministers, for positive orders, directing general Carleton to deliver up Lippincut, which orders being obtained, should be dispatched immediately by a swift sailing vessel. I do not think any other means can produce the effect desired. The cruel murders of this kind, committed by the English on our people, since the commencement of the war, are innumerable. The congress and their generals, to satisfy the people, have often